Waging Heavy Peace

An Autobiography by Neil Young. Neil is one of my favorite artists. He tells some history about Buffalo Springfield and CSNY and also the Mynah Birds with Rick James. Neil Young and Rick James in a band together…its just hard for me to imagine that.

He gets into how he started his music career with his first band and how he loves Crazy Horse.

Now all of these stories are great but… this is during the period he came up with PONO music… a high-end music player that plays music with much more quality than CDs or mp3s. This venture eventually failed years later but he is very excited about it in the book. That is great but sometimes it seems forced. I honestly don’t think he was plugging PONO…I think he was just that excited about it. His enthusiasm is unquestionable.

Cars…the man loves cars. I admire that in him but again he talks A LOT about electric cars and hybrids. Then he combines the two…PONO music systems being installed into…fuel efficient cars. I will admit it is interesting and you get to see what makes the man tick.

Some of it reads like a diary because that is the way he wrote a lot of it. He will say he is going to Hawaii and then a page or two later…he will tell you he made it there. It’s like being in conversation with someone who will just switch subjects on a whim. Neil tends to ramble.

He is part owner in Lionel Trains and you can feel his love of trains coming through the pages. He also talks about his quadriplegic son and the Lionel Train control he designed for his son to operate the trains. That I found really heart touching. He really tries to connect with his son and that is what the album Trans is all about.

He goes through his drug and drinking problems, medical problems, marriage problems, and every single car or bus he has had in his life…which again he just loves any kind of vehicle.

The disappointment for me was Neil didn’t talk enough about the music. Yes, you will learn more about Neil Young. I did learn many things about him that I didn’t know. The problem is he spreads the music sections out and just when he gets on a roll, you are thinking… cool he is writing about playing with Buffalo Springfield and also where they hung out…here comes the PONO Music bit or more car information.

I guess the best way to sum it up is yes you will get a lot of the musical info you are looking for but you have to wade through a lot of rambling.

Overall if you can find this book 2nd hand, get it. If you are looking for a definitive Neil Young bio this is not the one… He does have great things to say about the members of CSNY, Buffalo Springfield, and Crazy Horse. Maybe I wanted another Testimony or My Cross to Bear…this wasn’t it…but what did I expect? It’s Neil Young and he is going to do what he wants to do… that is the reason we love him.

I will admit this…after he mentions all the vintage cars and busses he has owned his enthusiasm rubs off…I started to look these models up and reading about them… but it wasn’t what I had in mind going into the book.

Neil Young and John Fogerty Lawsuits

In the eighties, two lawsuits popped up pertaining to these two artists.

Neil Young was basically sued for NOT sounding like himself by David Geffen and John Fogerty was sued for sounding too MUCH like himself by Saul Zaentz and Fantasy Records.

In the early eighties, David Geffen signed Neil Young to a huge contract to Geffen Records. Neil who will do his own thing no matter what or when…released an album called “Trans” his foray into electronic music. Geffen wanted another “Harvest” with another Heart of Gold or Old Man…instead he got “Computer Age” and “We R in Control” with Neil singing through a Vocoder. After that Neil was asked to do more rock and roll by a Geffen record company executive…the record company was thinking more of the lines of the harder rock Rust Never Sleeps…so Neil gave them rock and roll all right… “Everybody’s Rockin” an album full of early fifties Doo-wop and rockabilly sounding songs. The record company was not amused…he then released an album full of country music… In his contract, Neil had full artistic freedom.

Geffen had claimed the new albums were  “unrepresentative” of Neil’s music.

Geffen sued him for 3.3 million dollars but the case was settled and Geffen had to apologize to Neil.

In 1985 John Fogerty finally broke his silence with the album Centerfield. He had not released anything since 1975. He was involved with legal hassles and could not make music. Centerfield was a good album that signaled to the world John was back. He then was sued by Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz who signed the great Creedence Clearwater Revival to a terrible contract with Fantasy Records that kept John…the main songwriter and singer under contract forever. On top of that John gave up his copyrights to his CCR songs to Saul and Fantasy just to get out of that contract. The first single off of the Centerfield album “Old Man Down the Road” shot up the charts. Saul sued claiming it sounded too much like an old Creedence song that John wrote and sang called “Run Through the Jungle”. So he was being sued for plagiarizing himself. John would take his guitar to court to demonstrate how he wrote the two songs.

John won the case in 1988 and a lot of other musicians breathed a sigh of relief because other artists could have been sued for sounding like their younger selves if John would have lost. John countersued Fantasy Records for legal fees and it went to the Supreme Court in 1994…. they ruled in favor of Fogerty.

 

 

 

Remembering Buffalo Springfield

Buffalo Springfield is a band that gets lost in the shuffle at times. People know their big hit “For What It’s Worth” but little about the band. They were only active between 1966-68 but had a huge impact on other artists. The band was very talented……with Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay, Bruce Palmer, Dewey Martin and Jim Messina who replaced Bruce Palmer. They had some great songs like Mr Soul, Now days Clancy Can’t Even Sing, Burned, Expecting to Fly, Bluebird, Rock and Roll Woman, Broken Arrow and their big hit For What It’s Worth…

I just read Neil Young’s book “Waging Heavy Peace” and he said that the end of Buffalo Springfield started because the bass player Bruce Palmer kept getting busted for drugs and taken away…more than once… By 1968 it was over and what a waste with the potential they had…The remaining members reunited in 2011 and played 6 concerts… in 2012 they were going to tour and do 30 concerts. Neil quit and did an album with Crazy Horse. He has a history of leaving projects when they don’t interest him anymore.

If this band would have stayed together originally… it’s little doubt they would have gotten much bigger than they did with the talented members they had in place.

The song Broken Arrow deserves its own blog. It’s a song that is in sections and it’s hard to explain it with words… There is something haunting and beautiful about it. I listen to it now and it’s like Buffalo Springfield’s own A Day In The Life. It was produced in 1967 during the psychedelic era. My friend and I played guitars together in the 80s and we would sit and try to figure out what the song meant… It doesn’t really matter…it’s a great song. One of my favorite songs of all time…any song with the lyric “He hung up his eyelids and ran down the hall” grabs my attention.

Right after the breakup, Stephen Stills helped formed Crosby, Stills, and Nash….short time later Young came aboard and would join them occasionally. Furay and Messina help form Poco and Messina teamed up with Kenny Loggins latter on.

They made three albums while together. Buffalo Springfield (1966), Buffalo Springfield Again (1967) and Last Time Around (1968). A greatest hits came out in 1969 called Retrospective The Best of Buffalo Springfield. A box set was released in 2001.